Elgin's Smart911 app offers quick access to information

  • Maura Maschinski, supervisor at city of Elgin Communications Center

    Maura Maschinski, supervisor at city of Elgin Communications Center

 
By Maura Maschinski
Supervisor, City of Elgin Communications Center

In an effort to provide the most current services to its residents, the city of Elgin now subscribes to the Rave Mobile Safety Smart911 app. This multifaceted app allows residents to voluntarily provide vital information to first responders.

The Smart911 Safety Profile is a free, subscriber-based service that provides 911 dispatchers and first responders powerful capabilities for handling, dispatching and responding to emergency calls more efficiently and effectively. Anyone can create a Smart911 Safety Profile. It can include phone numbers, home and work addresses, family member information, photos, medical conditions, disabilities, hospital preferences, vehicle descriptions, even pet information.

When a 911 call is received and the telephone number is in the national Smart911 database, the Safety Profile instantly displays to the dispatcher.

This contains information critical to the response, such as hearing impairment, domestic violence risk, lethal allergy, and many other vital pieces of information that assist responders as to the best approach for the emergency.

In the Smart911 app, there is a two-way chat function where call takers can initiate a text conversation with a mobile user.

If an emergency caller is nonverbal, hearing-impaired, or feels unsafe speaking during an emergency call, dispatchers can easily send them the help they need. A hearing or speech impaired caller can indicate in their Smart911 Safety Profile that they prefer to communicate via Chat, allowing a more efficient emergency response.

The information accessed in the Smart911 Safety Profile is provided by the user and must be updated every six months to ensure responders have accurate and current data. An email will be sent by Smart911 to all subscribers as a reminder to review their profiles and confirm that all information is up-to-date.

The city also uses alerts powered by Smart911 to send official, real-time messages to the public with potentially lifesaving actions they may need to take to keep themselves and their families safe. When an emergency occurs that meets the criteria for sending an alert to the public, the city's emergency dispatchers will gather the information and send that alert to the affected area.

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An alert may be sent to all registered users, or to a specific area or neighborhood for a more localized incident. Alerts have been used for missing children and at-risk adults, suspect and offender vehicle information from a bank robbery, holiday or special events information, and transportation disruptions. The user can pick and choose which alerts they would like to receive or opt out of.

Residents can now download and register for the new, free Smart911 mobile app. This allows users to keep current during the highest priority National Weather Service alerts including tornado, flash flood, and severe thunderstorm warnings based on their location.

The alerts will be displayed on an interactive map. With the addition of the Smart911 app, more residents can participate and be better prepared in an emergency. Residents can receive notifications even when they don't have cellphone service and they can register without home internet access using their smartphones. This notification app is active wherever the subscriber travels with their phone.

The process to sign up for the city of Elgin's free alerting system, Rave Alert/Smart911 is simple. Visit www.cityofelgin.org/alert, search Smart911 in your mobile app store, or text "Smart911" to 67283 to receive the download link in a text message.

In doing so, residents are taking the initiative to be better informed and better protected.